Madagascar in Depth

Madagascar in Depth

From $ 5,705 AUD

Description

Take an in-depth journey into Madagascar and learn what makes this island nation so incredible. Madagascar’s wildlife has developed in isolation for millions of years, and the vast majority is endemic to the island as a result. There are 33 species of lemur and you’ll have an opportunity to meet them as you travel the country visiting remote national parks, pristine beaches, winding rivers and towns and cities with a culture all their own.

Trip Name
Madagascar in Depth
Last Updated
2019-07-14
Days
23
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Wander around 800-year-old trees along the Avenue of the Baobabs
  • Cross the Big Tsingy via suspended bridge
  • Float down the meandering Manambolo River on a morning canoe trip
  • Stay in a cottage deep within the Ranomafana National Park – surrounded by lush rainforest and countless species of flora and fauna.
  • See how many species of lemur you can spot in Isalo, Anadsibe and Ranomafana national parks (there are 33 different types!).
  • Chill out at laid back Anakao this Malagsy seaside village will privide you with plenty of R&R after a massive Madagascar adventure.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Antananarivo
Tonga soa! Bienvenue! Welcome to Antananarivo, Madagascar's crowded but charming capital. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception or your travel agent. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you decide to arrive early, take some time to get acquainted with the city. Perhaps head to Analakey to visit the permanent street markets.
Day 2 - Miandrivazo
Begin the long journey west. Maybe kick back with a book or get to know your fellow travellers during the seven-hour drive to Miandrivazo, a small city that will act as the starting point for your adventure down the Tsiribihina River. On arrival, check in to the hotel and listen to a briefing on essential information for your 2-day cruise. Head out to pick any extra supplies you may need or desire for the next few days, then get some rest in preparation for tomorrow.
Day 3 - Tsirbihina River Excursion
Rise and shine for the 35 kilometre drive to Masiakampy, where you will find a traditional barge waiting to escort you along the Tsiribihina River, depending on water level the depature point may vary a little.  These flat bottom boats were once used to transport tobacco, but without that precious cargo they make a comfortable way to cruise along the water and access the remote reaches of western Madagascar. For the next few days, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife on the banks and in the water, enjoy easy walks to hidden waterfalls and stop off in rural villages. Climb aboard and meet the crew. Then settle in and enjoy some lunch as you travel through flat farming plains and enter the dramatic gorges of the Tsiribihina, stopping in the afternoon to trek to a waterfall before returning to a large sandbank to set up camp. River camping for the next two nights is a simple wild camping experience. Sleeping mats are provided and one single blanket. As recommended in our packing list, travellers may wish to carry a sleeping bag and or sleeping sheet. These items are not available for hire.  There are no bathroom facilities, a bush toilet is the only option for the next three days, there will be limited fresh water on the boat for washing.
Day 4 - Tsiribihina River Excursion
Enjoy a full day gliding along the water today, travelling into the heart of the river. Wave to the locals on the banks and barges as you pass. In the absence of roads, daily life happens along the river in this part of Madagascar. Watch out for herds of zebus crossing the river, and flashes of colour as you look for bee-eaters, herons, and egrets in this bird lovers’ paradise. Stop occasionally for a village walk or a short trek for some lemur spotting before setting up camp at a village along the shore. This evening, light a campfire and enjoy some traditional Malagasy music and dancing with some local folk.
Day 5 - Bekopaka
Disembark the chaland and farewell the crew. Make a quick stop at Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, a small village, to check out the market and grab some lunch before beginning the 2.5-hour drive to Bekopaka. Arrive, check in to your hotel and settle in for the afternoon. Perhaps enjoy a swim or a shower, and rest your weary limbs. Tomorrow you’ll be taking on the Small Tsingy.
Day 6 - Bekopaka / The Small Tsingy
Rise early, pick a comfortable outfit and pack some food. Today you’ll spend between four and five hours trekking through the Small Tsingy, located in Bemaraha National Park. Scramble and navigate through a labyrinth of limestone formations that resemble a forest made of rock. Stop at two lookout points along the way for photo opportunities and a chance to take in the impressive surrounds. In the afternoon, unwind with a float down the Manambolo River on a pirogue (wooden dugout canoe) under the shadow of these towering rock cliffs. Take an easy afternoon cave stroll, taking the sight of stalactites, stalagmites and the eerie tombs of the Vazimba – said to be the earliest inhabitants of Madagascar.
Day 7 - Bekopaka / The Great Tsingy
Embrace another early start this morning and prepare a lunch to take with you during an action-packed trip to the Great Tsingy. Getting up early again might be a struggle, but it’s the best way to beat the heat and more intense crowds. Largely unexplored until the 1990s (the name Tsingy is very roughly translated as ‘place where one cannot walk barefoot’ in Malagasy), the area is now easier to navigate due to a series of bridges, semi-permanent climbing plugs and other equipment. Feel your heart stop as you pass over a sheer drop via suspended bridge, a truly breathtaking experience that those with vertigo may wish to skip. Animals lovers should keep an eye out for 11 species of lemurs, 100 species of birds and 45 endemic reptiles and amphibians, including the Madagascar iguana and Antsingy leaf chameleon.
Day 8 - Morondava
There is a long day of travel ahead, so get that book, podcast or stimulating conversation ready to stay occupied. Cross Manambolo River and Tsiribihina River by ferry, arriving in relaxed Morondava in time for a spectacular sunset in the Avenue of the Baobabs. These cartoonish, towering trees are native to Madagascar, and the variety you’ll see lit from behind this evening are adansonia grandidieri, the tallest of them all. Watch the sky turn pink and yellow and finally cast these trees – many of which are up to 800 years old – in shadow. Spend the night in Morondava and take a well-deserved rest.
Day 9 - Antsirabe
Depart this morning for Antsirabe, the capital of the Vakinankaratra region. It’s another drive that will last around eight hours, and after an orientation stroll around the city and included dinner at the hotel, it’s up to you whether you’d like to crash out or explore further. The town is fairly quiet after dark, but there are a few places to grab a nightcap if you so desire. If you’re so inclined, perhaps head to travellers favourite Le Pousse Pousse, where the booths are made from rickshaws, or ask your leader for recommendations.
Day 10 - Antananarivo
Enjoy breakfast and then hit the surrounding region on a soft trek, a good way to limber up after a few long days of driving. Discover the beauty of the local lakes, including the emerald-green waters of Tritiva, an extinct crater surrounded by verdant forest. Hike through the lakes district, sitting down for a picnic-style lunch along the way. Later, continue to Antananarivo. Perhaps spend your last evening on this trip indulging in some fine Malagasy food with your fellow travellers. There’s plenty of international cuisine on offer in ‘Tana’, but why not toast to your Malagasy adventure with a Three Horses Beer and a bowl of Madagascar’s national dish, romazava (a one pot rice and meat sensation).
Day 11 - Antananarivo
Enjoy a free day in Antananarivo. As this is a combination trip, there may be members of your group departing today and new travellers joining. You're already a seasoned traveller in Madagascar, so why not take them out for some local food and a drink and get excited about the next leg of the journey.
Day 12 - Andasibe National Park
Depart Antananarivo after breakfast for Andasibe National Park, approximately four hours east of Antananarivo. Stop en route at Pereyras Nature Farm, a private reserve that's home to chameleons, frogs, snakes and more. This evening, you'll have an opportunity to take night walk through the forest at Mitsinjo, a privately owned reserve, where you'll encounter nocturnal species including endemic butterflies and lemurs.
Day 13 - Andasibe National Park
Andasibe is the most visited park in Madagascar and famous for the 11 species of lemur that call it home. Aside from lemurs, you'll find endemic birds including the long-eared owl and the rufous-headed ground roller, as well as the smallest living chameleon – brookesia minima – and many times types of reptiles, insects and frogs. This region is popular thanks to an abundance of unique wildlife, and you'll have an opportunity to discover them during a guided walk through the national park.
Day 14 - Antsirabe
Drive to Antisrabe (approximately six to seven hours) and spend some free time getting to know the city on arrival. Antsirabe maintains a Malgasy touch with all the tranquility of a small European town, thanks to the contrast of its busting street markets, thermal springs and Colonial-style facades. Located in the highlands, it's a popular spa town thanks to the hot springs and thermal baths, and the colourful rickshadows known as 'pousse-pousse' are a popular form of transport. Make use of them in your tour of the city and discover tree-lined avenues, interesting architecture, a range of markets and so much more. 
Day 15 - Ambositra
Make the short journey to Ambositra this morning, home to the third-largest ethnic group in Madagascar, the Betsileo people. Take a visit to the nearbySandrandahy villages and explore the process of silk production, which is an important part of Malagasy culture. The use of silk was once reserved exclusively for royalty, but now everyone is free to wear it though its use is more often used for the dead. When a Malagasy is buried, their body is wrapped in a large, silk sheet known as a 'lambamena' and, after a few years, the family traditionally return to the tomb to exchange the sheet for a new one. This custom is known as famadihana, and each village specialises in one step of the production. Enjoy a local lunch before spending a free evening in Ambositra. 
Day 16 - Ranomafana
Travel this morning to Ranomafa National Park, a journey of about five hours. Located in the southeastern part of Madagascar, this park is home to a number of rare species. Ranomafana means 'hot water' in the Malagasy language and the area is haven for small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as palms, bamboo, orchids and carnivorous plants. It's home to 13 species of lemur, including the famous golden bamboo lemur, which was first reported in the area in 1985 and is one of the reasons why the government decided to protect this forest. Enjoy some free time on arrival, and you may want to consider taking an optional night walk once the sun goes down. Your accommodation tonight is a small cottage located within the park's boundaries.
Day 17 - Ranomafana
Continue exploring Ranomafana, this time on a guided walk. Keep your eyes peeled for lemurs, striped civets, mongooses, goshawks, geckos, frogs and butterflies. You may even spot an incredible net-casting spider or the world's smallest chameleon. Overnight once more within the park.
Day 18 - Fianarantsoa
Travel this morning to Fianarantsoa, a colourful town known for its markets and handicrafts. This heritage site is a must-see, with its long, paved road, labyrinths of small paths and old houses with flower-studdied balconies and tiled roofs. Take a day visit to a typical Malagasy village for an insight into how the majority of the island's population live, then explore the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with rice paddies and vineyards that produce Fianarantsoa's famous wine. You'll get a chance to sample local cuisine with a lunch stop in the villages then, in the afternoon, visit the historical old city of Fianarantsoa on foot. 
Day 19-20 - Isalo National Park
Drive approximately eight hours west toward Isalo National Park. The group will stop at the Anja Community Reserve en route, a great spot to observe lemurs and learn a little more about the local culture. The local villagers will be your guide on this excursion, and your leader will be able to translate all the knowledge they can pass on to you. Isalo is known for its variety of landscapes, from rainforests teeming with life to rolling plains to strange geological formations and deep-cut canyons. And of course, there are a variety of lemur species roaming around place because, well, this is Madagascar. Spend a couple of days exploring the park, which is home to over 80 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals including 3 lemur species (ring-tailed, red-fronted and Verreaux's sifakas lemur).
Day 21 - Anakao
You'll be up early today (5.30) to travel to Tulear Harbour, from where the group will take a boat to Anakao. Imagine perfect white sand beside turquoise waters and you have Anakoa, a small, laid-back town in which fishing is the main occupation. Enjoy a free day taking it easy on the beach, soaking up some sun and swimming in the clear waters of the Mozambique Channel.
Day 22 - Anakao
Today is another free day of leisure in this paradise. Consider taking a full-day tour of Tsimanampetsotse National Park, a birders' paradise named for its spectacular lake. More than 100 species of bird can be found here, including pink, greater and dwarf flamingos, as well as gray-brown mouse and white-footed sportive lemurs. Maybe paddle a canoe out to the island of Nosy Ve instead and check out the beaches and reef, or just hang out in Anakao town and make the most of its convenient beaches.
Day 23 - Antananarivo - Departure Day
Today is departure day, however your flight back to Antananarivo is included and this morning we depart for the Tulear airport and the 1 hour flight back to the capital.  Your trip will end on arrival at Antananarivo Airport. Please advise your Tour Leader if you have any international flight reserved for today. Air travel in Madagascar is notoriously delayed and we would not recommend any international flights until early evening. Your booking agent can assist with extra accommodation and your leader will transfer you back into the centre of Antananarivo if required.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
17-07-201908-08-2019AUD $ 6,155-
07-08-201929-08-2019AUD $ 6,265-
21-08-201912-09-2019AUD $ 5,705-
04-09-201926-09-2019AUD $ 6,210-
11-09-201903-10-2019AUD $ 6,155-
18-09-201910-10-2019AUD $ 6,210-
28-09-201920-10-2019AUD $ 5,760-
02-10-201924-10-2019AUD $ 6,155-
09-10-201931-10-2019AUD $ 5,705-
06-11-201928-11-2019AUD $ 5,705-
03-06-202025-06-2020AUD $ 5,875-
17-06-202009-07-2020AUD $ 5,875-
24-06-202016-07-2020AUD $ 5,875-
08-07-202030-07-2020AUD $ 5,875-
15-07-202006-08-2020AUD $ 5,875-
29-07-202020-08-2020AUD $ 5,875-
05-08-202027-08-2020AUD $ 5,875-
19-08-202010-09-2020AUD $ 5,875-
26-08-202017-09-2020AUD $ 5,875-
02-09-202024-09-2020AUD $ 5,875-
09-09-202001-10-2020AUD $ 5,875-
16-09-202008-10-2020AUD $ 5,875-
23-09-202015-10-2020AUD $ 5,875-
30-09-202022-10-2020AUD $ 6,040-
07-10-202029-10-2020AUD $ 5,875-
14-10-202005-11-2020AUD $ 5,875-
21-10-202012-11-2020AUD $ 5,875-

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights) Bungalows (3 nights) Cottage(2 nights) Lodge (2 nights) Camping (2 nights)

Transport

Private Vehicles,Boat,Plane,Ferry

Map